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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Tory MP embroiled in race row after mixing up Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid

“A lot of people at the event – who were all working hard to roll the vaccine out – have been talking about what had happened.”

On Monday night, a spokesman for St John Ambulance confirmed to The Telegraph that Mr Gray had been asked to step back temporarily from his public-facing charity activities for the time being to reflect on the incident.

However, he has not been stripped of any formal functions and continues to hold the honorary title of the Commander of the Order of St John, which he was awarded in 2020.

“St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form,” a spokesman said. “We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”

‘I am sorry if I got you two mixed up’

Approached for comment by the Mail Online last night, Mr Gray denied being racist or making the remark, adding that both Mr Zahawi and Mr Javid were close friends.

However, he admitted that he had confused the pair, adding: “I said: ‘I am sorry to confuse the two of you. You two look very alike’. I said ‘I am sorry if I got you two mixed up’.

“The notion that this is some sort of racist remark is ridiculous. They are two very good friends of mine.”

A source close to Mr Zahawi also claimed that Mr Gray had not meant to cause offence and had “apologised profusely”.

The incident comes just weeks after Mr Gray joked about planting a bomb in the office of Anneliese Dodds, chairman of the Labour Party.

The comments were made after a colleague messaged asking for the location of Ms Dodds’ office so they could deliver something to her.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Gray replied: “A bomb, perhaps?”

The comments are said to have caused widespread anger among female Tory MPs, and came just days before Labour’s annual conference in Brighton.

The city is the location where the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in 1984, during the Conservative Party’s annual conference, killing five people and injuring Lord Tebbit, then trade secretary, and his wife.

 Confronted over the remarks at the time, Mr Gray told the newspaper: ‘It was a foolish remark. I meant no offence and hope none was taken.”

In 2006 he was also reported to have had an affair while his then-wife had breast cancer.

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